ORLANDO, Fla. -- Even if he did hit the bleep out of the shot, it's hardly the mode or message traditionally communicated to the conservatively staid golf audience by the world's most image-conscious sport.
Firstly, manufacturer TaylorMade golf began airing a television commercial this week for its new line of equipment, the name of which is sure to cause a few rolled eyes. The new clubs are called RocketBallz, which has prompted some schoolboy giggles.
Yet in an ad airing last week during the Golf Channel telecasts of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions from Kapalua, Hawaii, one of the clubmaker's staff professionals on the PGA Tour, veteran Sean O'Hair, makes an obviously profane remark after hitting a practice ball on the range with one of the new clubs.
O'Hair smiles broadly after smashing a shot and drops an F-bomb, which is bleeped out in the commercial, but the timber and tone are convincingly made clear. A Golf Channel spokesman said Monday that he was unaware of any complaints logged from viewers about the spot, which might speak as much for the low ratings and late-night TV viewing slot as any offense it might have caused.
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PGA Tour communications chief Ty Votaw said Tuesday that tour "discussed" the ad content with TaylorMade.
Coincidentally or not, the ad apparently didn't air on Monday night during the final-round broadcast from Kapalua.
"We have communicated with each other today and yesterday," Votaw said Tuesday afternoon. "Like hypotheticals, I cannot comment on coincidences, either."
Interestingly, though the tour has never made its disciplinary policy public, it is believed that players who swear on the golf course -- especially when picked up by microphones in the network broadcast -- have been subject to fines from tour headquarters when the language is overheard and complaints are lodged by fans or marshals.
While the language from O'Hair is mostly implied, it's not exactly the content the tour tries to convey about its product, although it is unclear what sort of leverage the tour could apply if it ultimately wants the advertisement yanked for any reason.